Sunday, May 24, 2009

On Wraithguard

I've been running these fellows for the last several weeks, and I think I have a good sense of how they operate, how to use them, and how to get them killed. Mind you, getting these guys killed is a bit of a task, though...

Wraithguard are T6, have a 3+ armor save, and can always carry a 5+ cover save courtesy of the spiritseer.

-Powerful Guns
The Wraithcannon is, pound for pound, one of the nastiest guns in the game. It is AP2, wounds on a fixed 2+ (instant death on a '6', for all the good that does). Against vehicles, each hit rolls a d6; 3-4 glances and 5-6 penetrates regardless of armor value. Each gun fires a single shot.

A 10-man squad with a Spiritseer (an upgraded Warlock) counts as a troops selection, and thus may hold objectives.
-The Spiritseer
A spiritseer is an upgraded Warlock. You will be taking a Spiritseer to get around the Wraithsight special rules. This also means you can add a Warlock power to the unit. Warlock powers include:
Destructor: warlock effectively has a heavy flamer; it's an S5, AP4 template weapon
Embolden: re-roll leadership tests
Conceal: unit benefits from 5+ cover save at all times
Enhance: unit gains +1WS, +1I
Obviously, a fearless unit has little use for Embolden. Given the range of the Wraithguard, if they go into troops a Destructor could be handy, but is generally irrelevant when shooting vehicles to death. Enhance helps their melee prowess out a little; generally it means they go first and hit on 3's instead of going simultaneously with marines and hitting on 4's. In practical terms, it means a unit of 10 hits with 6-7 attacks instead of 5.
I prefer Conceal, as it allows Wraithguard to always have a cover save, and accentuates their durability. I do not think that Enhance helps their melee skills out enough, and they should keep some backup.

Wraithguard are costly in terms of both time and money. A 10-man unit with attendent spiritseer and Conceal costs 396 points. Wraithguard models are best e-Bayed, as they are $15 in the blister.

Wraithcannon have a 12" range. They are fully capable of wreaking havoc on vehicles, monstrous creatures, and smaller infantry units IF they can shoot at them.

-Melee 'skill'
Wraithguard are not exactly nasty melee units. They have a single attack at WS4, S5, I4, and the spiritseer swings a witchblade at WS4, I4 and 2 attacks base (pistol/CCW + base attack). However, the Wraithcannon is an assault weapon, at least.

10 Wraithguard + Spiritseer cannot fit into a vehicle. They are walking. If you bring 5 and the spiritseer you can fit them into a Wave Serpent.
If there is not a psyker within 6", the Wraithguard must test for Wraithsight. On a 6, they do nothing for the turn, and are auto-hit in melee. This can be mitigated by taking a Warlock with the unit, and a Spiritseer (warlock upgrade) merely has to be within 12" of the Wraithguard. This is a problem mostly if the enemy can nuke the Spiritseer while there are Wraithguard still alive.

So, what can you do with Wraithguard? Their primary skill is taking up space, to be perfectly honest. It takes a lot of firepower to shift them. With Fortune and access to cover saves, Wraithguard are capable of soaking up plenty of firepower. It takes something like Imperial Guard to crank out massed battle cannon shots to really harm them. T6 means you HAVE to go hunting for them with S7+ fire, or bring massed powerfists.

On the other hand, with Wraithcannon, they are fully capable of nuking monstrous creatures (hit on 3's, wound on 2's, ignore armor...a full unit is fully capable of nuking at least one MC). They can hunt vehicles as well, in a pinch. Against regular infantry, a charge is liable to beat up a non-melee-oriented troop, or a depleted enemy melee choice.

Wraithguard obviously require support. They are not melee troops, and at best there might be a Farseer with them for another Wytchblade. They are fully capable of holding down anything short of a unit full of powerfists/thunder hammers, but if you want them free, they need bailing out. The Avatar and Harlequins are choice units for this.

Employing Wraithguard
5 Wraithguard with spiritseer in a Wave Serpent is probably not an optimal choice. Their mission is to bring the Wraithcannon to bear, and annihilate the target. On average, such a unit should hit 3-4 times. This should be 3-4 wounds on a Monstrous Creatures, so it should be able to do the trick.

However, against vehicles? This might be a single penetrating hit, and a single glance. Fire Dragons are superior vehicle hunters with the meltaguns, should you deliver them within 6" of the target.

Fire Dragons are also much cheaper, but much less durable (T3, 4+ versus T6, 3+).

On Foot
Bringing Wraithguard dictates a major portion of your build, mind you. They're about 400 points of your army, and troops. Expect them to draw LOTS of fire, and they'll take just about anything short of massed high-strength, AP2 fire (See Battle Cannons, Leman Russ Executioners, Plasma Cannons for the REAL threats).

On foot, Wraithguard are an excellent pad-unit for a Farseer. It's hard to force enough wounds to make the Farseer take one on a majority-toughness 6 unit. Wraithguard also benefit from Fortune, since it makes them an unholy terror to kill without massed Wraithguard-killing weapons. Obviously, they also benefit from slogging through regular cover.

Additionally, you want to bring some kind melee support. The Avatar is one choice, though benefits from Fortune as well. Eldrad + Avatar + Wraithguard forms a solid core to the army, and the Avatar is adept at bailing out out the squad. The Avatar is also a relatively inexpensive 'assistant,' with a 155 pricetag.

Harlequins do not take up an HQ squad, but are likely to be more expensive. They will need Doom more than the Avatar, since they are S4 on the charge and benefit from Doom's re-rolls doubly so (chance to wound, chance to rend on the re-rolls to wound).

The ideal way to run Wraithguard is on foot. Footslogging Wraithguard are a hell of a durable troops choice. Running them with nearby melee support costs 550-600ish, though. Throw the Farseer in there (assume 150ish) and it's a 750pt choice; more than a third of the army. Additionally, it is not a swift core, and it is short-ranged. This leaves you with a couple of ways to run the rest of your army.

Slow and Durable
-bring Wraithlords, Rangers, and Harlequins to maxmize the difficulty of killing anything in your army. Harlequins on foot with Shadowseers are difficult to spot outside of 12"; everyone else is T6+.
-This army is painfully slow. You WILL be cursing and playing for a tie in objective missions with bad objective placement.
-You'll have to bring Bright Lances on the Wraithlords, or settle for scatter lasers/missile launchers and give the Harlies Fusion Pistols to hunt armor with.

-Mounted troops make the army much more mobile, obviously. Wave Serpents can bring cannons and lances to the party.
-To be honest, I've found this variant to be preferable to the full-foot 'Elfzilla' version. It is more flexible by nature.
-Mounted also brings you more flexibility in troops choices.

If you like a slow, relentless advance, look into Wraithguard. They're nasty, they're durable, but you need to take some consideration with support since they determine your army build. I suppose you could always bring TWO units, but that's something like 800 points, and Wraithguard are sadly not THAT killy. You'd be hard-pressed to really pull it off well, but I suppose you're welcome to it.


madtroll said...

wraithguard are one of my favorite eldar units.

makes me wanna play em.

Raptor1313 said...

I'm glad you like 'em. They're seriously a pretty usable unit, but they just take some planning around. They are REALLY one of the units you can't just OOH, AHH, and toss into your army without thought...

Faolain said...

I love wraithguard too. I am slowly building up a 10 strong unit. Every time I buy models, I always make sure to get one wraithguard.

I also like the idea of running an avatar with them. The Fearless becomes redundant, but the enemy won't be trying to get into close combat with them.

Raptor1313 said...

I feel like you've GOT to support them with some kind of melee help. If you're on foot, then Banshees are out beause they can be shot. Harlies need a fortune/doom boost, and cost around 200 for 7-9 with Kisses and Shadowseers. The Avatar is just the cheapest way to do it.

And yeah...I just had to E-bay 'em, and got 'em for an average of $10-12 a head. It's just painful to assemble a whole 10-wraith-strong unit at once.

suneokun said...

Great post, Wraithguard fall steadily into the 'overpriced' bracket for many Eldar players - and that's a shame as they are one of the most colourful and entertaining units out there. It's worth remembering that even at T6, they're only a 1 wound model, so bank up on the fortune!

I love the idea of fielding the Avatar with the Wraithguard ... it benefits both units, but its a shame wraithguard don't have the same bodyguard rule as TyrantGuard for Tyranids. It would be cool if you could field Wraithguard as a Avatar or Wraithlord bodyguard.

Fluffy, but maybe a little broken!

Still against Tyranids, Wraithguard plus Avatar could form a stunning fulcrum for your army.

Raptor1313 said...

It'd be disgusting to see an Avatar with a handful of Wraithguard around it, but I'd do it.

Against 'nids...oh, man. I had a buddy relate a tale vs. nidzilla about Wraithguard steadily advancing and nuking a carnifex a turn. Monstrous Creatures are one of the things on a Wraithguard's diet; barring a truly terrible turn of shooting a 10-zombie unit should just be able to nuke an average 4-wound monstrous creature to death.

Anonymous said...

Say hello to the invisiguard. 10 man wraithguard unit with spirtseer with conceal, farseer with fortube, eldrad. Eldrad takes the rulebook powers, and unless you are very unlucky, will role up invisibility. The waraithguard now have shrouded and stealth, plus their 5+ cover save, giving them a 2+ cover save. Thsi cover save is now rerollable with fortune. Trololo